They live in the ether

An interesting comment made by a teacher during a department meeting made me think…

“…for us, we don’t get it, but for our kids, they have these whole other lives in the ether.”

I keep running into the same thing over and over again when it comes to technology integration – doesn’t matter whether it’s letting students use iPods or starting a class blog – shifting from teacher-centered instruction to teacher as a creator of learning experiences or teacher as co-learner is without a doubt the biggest obstacle I face as a technology integrator.  This is not a rant…  I’m not angry about it, in fact now that I’ve come up with this hypothesis it really makes me able to recognize where some of the resistance I’ve encountered comes from.  Now that I know (or think I know) where it’s coming from, I can try to deal with it.

Spotlight Beam By Visualogist on Flickr!

So, the key question becomes how do we change people’s minds, many of whom ENJOY being the center of their classroom, thrive on being in control, get much gratification from being “content experts”, to make them see the benefits of giving up all that they know and love about being a teacher – to take a risk at not being in control, of not knowing more than their students, of letting the students have the spotlight on center stage?

Solve this problem, and real, meaningful shift can happen.

That’s why this comment about student’s lives “in the ether” was so striking.  This teacher gets it.  She made the fundamental shift in recognizing that these students are different, they have different skills and different needs.  Teaching them in the same ways we were taught isn’t going to serve the needs of these students.  She doesn’t have all the answers about how to engage them with technology but she doesn’t have to.  By making this leap and being open to possibilities she’s well on her way to transforming learning in her class.


About jplaman

Jeffrey Plaman is in Singapore where he's a Digital Literacy Coach at United World College of South East Asia. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator with a special interest in developing digital citizenship.
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2 Responses to They live in the ether

  1. bward says:

    hard transition to make, especially if the students have not had opportunities at being in control of their learning. this is does not have to involve technology. some teachers have been doing this long before computers, ipods etc. the trick is to keep the learning on the themes and not the minutia. Unfortunately, the us ed system must change from its number of content standards to a broad-based theme. Our students need to be users of knowledge rather than reciters of knowledge. Isn’t it ironic, that we had that idea in minnesota back in the old profiles of learning days.

    • jplaman jplaman says:

      Those old “profiles” days were great memories… lots of good professional conversations around the possibilities that kind of “show what you know” system could have accomplished. Too bad that accountability piece wasn’t thought through.

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